Have all the bibs hanging on the wall, along with photos of the first "roller coaster" 2-lane John P. Grace bridge we all crossed as it wobbled and shook.
The next year, the race moved to the 3-lane Silas Pearman and I walked that one until the Ravenel opened in 2005.
In '05, I walked on our side of the 8-lanes and then stopped doing any more.
I'll start the Walk again when a new bridge is added.
But this was the first year I arrived at the finish line on Meeting Street BEFORE anyone from Kenya. Or Ethiopia. Or Morocco.
Of course, this was Friday, the night before the race.
I had just come from a Todd Barry comedy show up the street at Theatre 99 and saw the structure was still being built.
The comedian was doing a "Crowd Work" show, basing his humor on interchanges with the audience. Some were great and some just so-so, depending on the energy - and responses - from the individuals.
When the 37th annual bridge run was brought up, he went into a funny rant about "all this fuss about a dinky 6.2 mile race?" "You have to be kidding, I can't find a hotel room anywhere downtown because of THAT? "I would have walked further than that from my hotel room in North Charleston!" I'm glad Mayor Keith Summey wasn't there that Friday night. His town took a LOT of abuse. "Is there a South Charleston? Is the peninsula basically 'Middle Charleston?'" Then the audience tried to explain South of Broad and he came back with some SOB comments that were very funny. The Folly Beach "Edge of America" was discussed as well. The two destinations were mentioned a lot. Maybe the crowd felt they could throw out those "safe" references and be less likely to be ridiculed.
I learned years ago that empty seats in the front row were vacant for a reason.
At a stand-up comic performance, you might be randomly targeted and perhaps asked "What's your name" Is that your wife or a hooker? So I tend to sit a few rows back, especially if the whole act is talking to audience members. I saw him a few years ago and he had a lady in the front row raving about working at Guiseppe's Pizza. I think the Mt. Pleasant eatery has changed hands - and name - but it was a funny few moments. "Joe Seppy? That's the name of the place? Go to Joe for a pie?"
Actually, I saw there was an empty seat in the front row at Theatre 99 last Friday night.
(Click on the photos for more detail.)
A night shot on Meeting Street in the dark is quite a challenge.
There has been quite a bit of movie and tv filming around Charleston.
Reminded me of my time working for Universal Studios in Los Angeles, back in the 1970s. There I could roam the giant and diverse Back Lot.
Now I am living in a large setting for productions.
Last year I signed up on the local website to be a part of this Silver Screening Activity: An Atmosphere person. A Backgrounder. A paid Extra.
But, nothing happened. No calls from Lifetime's Army Wivesduring its 7 years of tours in Charleston.
Didn't hear back from casting for sultry Recklesson CBS.
Or that other one,on Bravo,Southern Charm, with Mr. Ravenel. (Has he been shown yet driving over THAT bridge?)
Finally I was asked to be way in the background on Identity,
a pilot being shot by CBS for possible pickup later this summer.
Apparently my name and photo had been passed around to various productions and - finally - an old retired guy with white hair was needed.
I had a 3:30 pm call Wednesday at the old Naval Hospital on Rivers Avenue.
I was to be part of a background crowd of assorted doctors, nurses, interns, orderlies, and EMS first-responders.
Oh yes, AND some patients.
I also had been told I might be used as a family member in civvies, visiting the hospital but - lucky me - I was handed a white wife-beater shirt and an open-in-the-back hospital gown.
So I went to the dressing room trailer, one of many bright white vehicles parked inside the barb-wire topped fence by the entrance to the long-closed hospital.
I had been told to bring lounging pants/sweatpants and slippers. My butt was not going to be visible. And, no draft.
I now was about to learn how to be a patient patient.
The instructions were to NOT wear primary colors (they hate RED) and my pair of grey checked pajama bottoms were rejected because "it might cause problems for the camera." Well I knew I didn't want to be a trouble-maker on the set with bothersome pjs drawing the attention of the cameraman or director. We went "on the clock" at 3:30 and lounged around in a large room that I guess used to be the main lobby. The 10-story building had opened in 1973, started slowing down in 1993 and closed in 2007. We costumed extras ate snacks, read or used tablets, Smartphones and iPods, wandered down to the crafts food truck for bottled water and found where the Porta-Potties were placed. One "nurse" commented she had three children and had attended many "boo-boos" so was comfortable portraying a medical person. A doctor nearby munched on a healthy red apple and I gave him a "thumbs up." Two other doctors gave conflicting views on smoking.
I had left my camera in my car, thinking surely it would not be allowed, but noted most had a cell phone and were taking snapshots. We were still waiting for other scenes ahead of us to be filmed (or taped) and my rumbling stomach was pleased when the crew came streaming past us for the 6:30 pm "lunch break." We were invited to join the crew by the P.A. (Production Assistant) who herded us to the craft food tent nearby. Parked at the curb was the mobile kitchen I assume was used to prepare the delicious meals. Naturally, as a blogger, I used my phone-cam to show my tasty fried chicken plate. Catfish and BBQ ribs were the other protein choices.
After the meal, the P.A. had staff issue us the props we would use in our two hospital scenes. While others now were wearing ID badges and stethoscopes, the EMS duo strapped on thick Batman-like black belts with their pouches and equipment. Authentic-looking shiny metal badges were pinned to their white shirts. We patients now wore fake hospital wrist bands. Hmmm. Mine said I was one of the Smith girls. Should I ask for a another one, a male bracelet? Well, it was very tiny type. I'm sure the fictitious Doc Kevin Miller was a fine chap. Probably an OB-GYN though.
A wheel chair appeared and another fellow was given crutches. He later would have a fake cast applied to his left lower leg. I was to be the "old patient pushing an IV bottle on a wheeled stand."
A medical technical expert examined how each patient looked, made suggestions and said they now could tape my IV to the back of my right hand.
No needle means no pain. I liked my prop but was a little jealous of the young man who would have a GSW* and be rolled into the ER on a bloody gurney. *Everybody else called it a gun shot wound but I had heard the initials on a tv crime show. And I have a daughter who's a detective in Oakland so I had heard the term.
Close to 8 pm, we carried our props (I rolled mine) and moved two rooms closer to the working set. Now we had to be very quiet and absolutely silent between hearing "Rolling" and "Cut." There was some whispering as we were briefed and assumed our assigned positions in the hallway leading to the ER entrance. Every hospital scene has people moving around in the background in a busy flurry of orchestrated activity. Now I had a start point and, on hearing "Background," I would shuffle my way through the moving crowd, pushing my IV bottle along, with a sad but ever hopeful expression, turn right just at the ER doors and step out of view and wait to hear "Cut." This would be followed by a bellowed "Re-Set," and all the extras would quickly scramble back to the start position. Actually 10 or so crew members were hustling in and around us, adjusting lights, carrying tubing and strange shaped metal supports until the last second when they darted out of sight. We did this 17 times. Then we returned to the nearby Quiet Zone waiting area.
Two hours later, we were assigned new start positions on a different hallway, the filming began and ended, was reset and done over with slight changes in camera angles. About 15 - 20 times. At 12:45 am, we turned in our props and costumes, I grabbed one last chocolate chip cookie and nodded to the new crew of extras who had been waiting for their 10:00 pm call. We had been told to NOT talk to the actors so I was quiet when the show's star Ahna O'Reilly took a break, sipping bottled water, in a room opposite me as I stood on my second late night start spot. I drove home knowing I had made $58.00 but - maybe more importantly - was now on a short list of dependable extras who had committed, shown up on time and would (hopefully) be called again. Oh yeah, after 8 hours, the pay jumps to time and a half! (Click on the photos for more behind-the-scenes detail.) I worked all day in sweatpants and slippers. And nobody had snickered "ICU."
A few months ago I wrote about a Charleston Bloggers meetup I tried to attend at the West Ashley Barnes & Noble.
No problem finding the large bookstore.
The manager walked me over to a corner of the store - by the DVDs and CDs - and I saw folded chairs stacked.
I sat and waited for the others to arrive. One other person showed up a few minutes later.
We chatted as we waited and even sent some emails asking where were the rest of the group.
Well, after an hour she and I left.
We later discovered the group had been in session at the store - but in the coffee area with wall plugs for laptops. Duh.
The manager had lead us astray.
The next month I found 5-6 others gathered and we had some nice conversations about Web Logs.
(Web Logs...get it?)
Last night I went again and saw some familiar faces and a few new ones. J. Mark Diaz, the moderator, and I had missed meeting before and he explained that the original founder - a very busy lawyer - had asked him to take over the leadership as the Coordinator.
I mentioned there had been a large group of Bloggers organized locally years ago when this part of the web was still very new. The Post and Courier had semi-recognized us as a group and we were featured in a column that ran for about a year.
One of those early bloggers, Geoff Marshall, was from England and he had taken an extensive cross-country drive before he returned to London.
Geoff had already been to Hawaii and Alaska, so his blog postings included his good and bad adventures in the "lower 48."
One stop was at Mt. Rushmore and he posed - as thousands do each year - with his face on the far right.
I converted it to black & white and embellished his features to have a more granite look.
Unlike the Queen Victoria saying, he "WAS amused."
Glad to be part of this newer incarnation of bloggers and wannabes.
Hope they all achieve what they attempt on the internet.
Mike Birbiglia was coming to town, thanks to the fine funny folks at Theater 99.
Mike is well-known as a comedian, writer,actor and director.
The advice on the website was "It's NOT assigned seating folks. so arrive early, around 7:00 for the 7:30 show." Hey, I'm an experienced live performance attendee so I showed up an hour before the show at the Charleston Music Hall. And headed for the end of the surprisingly long line. That kept snaking down the alley past 39 Rue du Jean. Past Coast. Past the three new dining places that just opened in the old, empty 3-story tobacco barn that, years ago, housed Club Tango. All the way to Hutson, the next street over from John Street. Yikes.
Inside, I was lucky enough to find a seat in the 4th row, almost on the aisle, so I was happy. Seat secure, I went back to get a beer and bumped into the key people at Theater 99. I congratulated them on the huge turnout. Brandy Sullivan said it was only the third time they had used another venue and it was their first and largest sellout with 800 persons. Greg Tavares, (glasses), the other original founder of Theater 99 and Sean Sullivan (hat) were all smiles as people continued to stream in for the Birbiglia show.
The show started right at 7:35. Mike's on his "Thank God For Jokes" tour and had to be pleased with a totally-filled Music Hall. From my point of view, other performers will take note of a packed venue and perhaps consider adding Charleston to their tour stops. A win-win for our city's entertainment scene.
Mike started by letting us know he is an "on time" person.
Not someone who arrives late, feeling fashionable and good looking.
"On time can be hours and hours while late is just a few seconds. You have all day to arrive on time." Unfortunately, for them, he spotted a couple down front who were late and tried to sneak in quietly and take their seats. When there are empty seats in a filled place, especially close to the stage right (your left) the seats later being occupied gave him a terrific target. He engaged them in conversation, asking what they had been doing all day. They responded "this and that" and he said they were the kind of people who say "Oh, I'll be just 5 minutes" with no real sense of time. Growing up, his family would go on vacation and leave for the airport 45 minutes before flight time. He added, "we lived 45 minutes from the airport."
At two times during the show, he dropped down on the stage and - briefly - was NOT a stand-up comic. Technically. He was describing himself at a Yoga class and showing some of the forms and positions he assumed. His wife was running late and asked him to save a spot by placing her mat next to his. She later decided not to attend. He had shooed away several people who had wanted the empty space he said was being saved for his wife. Naturally, at the end of the session, they assumed she had died or was sick. They asked "Is she OK?"
Always in search for a joke, he had the actual wording of a brief but intense verbal blast that Director David O. Russell had shouted at a well-know comedic actress. It was profane and biting. It had naughty words. Mike had debated if he should actually use it - he had promised his mother he would be a "clean" comic and not use vulgar terms. The advice he received was: 1. it was very funny 2. it was actually a quote 3. how could he NOT use it? So he did and we loved it. We understood that when on a tour, he would test material, see how it goes over and either keep polishing the bit or drop it completely. I have no idea if his mom voiced an opinion. (Click on the photos for more details.) At last, it appears the Music Hall is being used more and more. Glad to see it active and not closed and dark for months at a time. Wonder if the general admission policy will become the norm?
"Yes, a tripod would be handy right now," said Kelsey Castro.
"No problem, use my shoulder," responded David Blackwell.
Meanwhile, Chris Castro, 12, went it alone. Main Street in Summerville on the first day of Spring. 3rd Thursday is a time to wander around. See what's new and what's been there for many years. A longtime resident is a good guide to have on these memory lane jogs. Thanks Charles.
Right in front of us - on Short Central - the street that's always closed to traffic - some talented high schoolers gave a sneak preview of an upcoming production of "The Wiz."
The "yellow" part of the real brick road was added by me, using Photoshop.
Don't think officials would have allowed actual paint being brushed on.
But it adds to the effect as Scarecrow, Tin Man, Dorthy and the Cowardly Lion shake it on down.
Speaking of a drug store with a history, the Dunning family has operated this beauty on Main Street for more than 50 years.
My dad was a cabinet maker who retro-fitted drug stores and would treasure wall storage units like these.
Some with rich woods, glass shelves and sliding glass doors were trucked home when the owners guiding the remodeling threw them out.
Not the case here.
Proudly showing heritage along with products for sale.
Those nice looking cuterie boards, filled with choice meats and cheeses, are pretty fancy.
Well, when they are first delivered to your table.
Not so much toward the end as appetites have been satisfied.
The offer was made to help ourselves but I think Charles and I arrived on the scene a bit too late.
We wished the two ladies who were visiting the area a nice evening and continued our tour along Main Street.
They were refilling their wine glasses.
Right next door was an elegant wine bar so we went in to see if there were seats at the bar.
Nope, filled up and about 3-deep standing around.
The striking etched glass sculpture hanging on the back bar certainly caught my eye.
Charles knew the artist and talked about some of his other pieces.
I listened while I focused (literally) on the beautifully carved 3-D work of art.
Amazing to think that my small digital camera was capturing this image as simple "0"s and "1"s in computer talk.
This is indeed a wonderful time to be a photographer.
Young camera newcomers don't have the history of shooting on film and home darkrooms to appreciate what led up to this.
Speaking of history and a-flash-from-the-past, this 1956 Ford T-Bird brought back lots of memories.
A late night fast drive down from Camp Lejeune to Myrtle Beach, with a fellow Marine.
It was the sergeant's brand new "bird" and we had a grand time cruising the strand until the wee hours.
Doubt I would do well on 2-hours sleep these days.
But, when duty called that morning, we were back in time for formation.
Details of that evening are a little sketchy but I never would call a classic car like this an "antique!"
(Click on the photos for more details.)
I used to drive a '59 Triumph TR-3 and my daughter once saw one and remarked about the "old car."
His travel band features Margey Peters on bass/fiddle and vocals and she earned this triumphant pose.
(Is that just odd lighting or do I see blood trickling down her upraised left arm?)
The traveling band includes Brad on guitar (I notice he strokes mainly with his right thumb!) and John Collinge on clarinet and sax.
Margey playing her fiddle and Andrew Guterman lays down the beat on drums.
Home Team is a rabid Blues supporter and fantastic music venue with great sound.
May I suggest you try the pulled pork (or chicken) plate with two sides. Dessert is a decadent moist brownie or banana pudding.
I went with the smoked beef brisket, smashed potatoes and BBQ beans.
Oh, and some tasty cold beers of course.
Local craft brewery Holy City has produced a fine Bowen's Island Oyster Stout.
Either enjoy that or their equally fine Pluff Mud Porter.
Porter or Stout - I like both.
But, back to the music performers:
It was good timing for a Tuesday "school night" show, starting at 9:00 pm and going until midnight.
I've been to places (PoHo) where the music doesn't even start until 11:00 pm.
A few times even later. Yikes.
This is a good mix of great music and good food.
I didn't get a chance to ask Brad the origin - and meaning - of his band's name.
He was the only one wearing a vest so that wasn't it.
In an email, he responded to my question.
In great detail. Thanks Brad.
Brad VickersWhat is a Vestapolitan? Well, you see... When Brad Vickers was looking for a "V" name for his group, he chose The Vestapolitans. Here's why:
Back in the 1800s, refined young people were taught, among other skills, "parlor guitar". There was one popular piece called "The Siege of Sebastapol," whose title referred to a town that figured in the Crimean war. This instrumental was what was known as a "character" or stage bravura piece, with sections meant to emulate sound effects like a bugle call, stirring battle sounds, etc. This kind of piece was learned by advanced students for recitals.
Most importantly, it was played in "open" tuning. This tuning caught fire and circulated among players almost at once, and though the piece itself did not become a standard, there must have been enough performances to get the name into circulation. By the 1920s "Sevastopol", as it was then spelled, tuning became very popular with players from all walks of life, both chord and slide guitarists. As the years went on, the name got bent into all kinds of shapes, Vestopol, Vestapool, Vastopol, Bestapol, etc. In fact, Bo Diddley said that he first learned guitar in "Vastabol" tuning. (Bo favored open E, and would use a capo to vary the key).
Vestapol refers to the chord voicing—the relationship between the open strings—not necessarily the key. The most commonly played Vestapol tunings are D Major (where the tuning is: D-A-D-F#-A-D) or E Major (where the tuning is E-B-E-G#-B-E. ) Brad uses both of these tunings.
Born Charleston,SC; 4 yrs USMC; 1960 Scholarship to University San Diego; Union-Tribune staff photographer 7 yrs; Graduated USD 1968. Covered Charles Manson trial for CBS TV; 2 yrs at Universal Studios; promoted Southern Calif then Kansas City ConVisBureau. Missouri State Director of Tourism. Ass't Dir. FLA Div.Tourism. Back to Charleston; Post and Courier InfoLine Manager & ad sales. Retired June 2004. Life is good!